That’s because it wasn’t remotely Bush’s fault. But to show you how this is an age-old partisan thing, I found a column in the liberal American Prospect from January 29, 2001, headlined: “The Bush Bear Market?

It’s similarly reasoned, just flipped to the left. But that’s the only “blame Bush” piece I can find until a mid-2002 WSJ interview of George Soros where he called the crash “the Bush bear market.” That was still wildly wrongheaded, and it was seventeen months after Bush had taken office, not forty-one days.

And the Bloomberg story doesn’t even mention the Nasdaq fall under Bush pointing instead that it took eight months for the Dow to fall as much under Bush as it has already under Obama.

“It’s the Obama bear market,” said Dan Veru, who helps oversee $2.8 billion at Palisade Capital Management in Fort Lee, New Jersey. “We don’t know what the rules are in so many different areas the government is touching.”

Bloomberg as an institution doesn’t like the “to be sure” graphs, but it shouldn’t have written this story without one. As a friendly service from The Audit I’ll write them one—gratis!

“To be sure, the stock market’s crash long preceded Obama’s inauguration and election, and the economy he inherited from Bush is in a tailspin not seen for eighty years. And the extent to which Obama’s proposals have impacted the stock market is impossible to calculate.”

And the story doesn’t note that another measure of confidence in the administration, the “right track/wrong track on the economy ” polls and the popularity polls are very positive—far above Bush levels.

I don’t deny that part of the stock decline is most likely to do the lack of confidence in the mixed messages we’ve seen from Obama’s crew so far, but who knows? And get some perspective, as Ritholtz says:

But to hold him responsible for a market collapse on day 41 of his Presidency — following 8 years of gross negligence and ruinous incompetency under the Bush regime — is simply too much stupidity for any damaged nation to bear.

Bloomberg is playing right into partisan hands here with a story that could be a GOP press release. Stock markets go up, stock markets go down (and this one was trending down anyway).

Let’s not confuse correlation with causation. Of all business-news outlets, it should know better.


Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at rc2538@columbia.edu.